The year 2022 was a good year for videogames, but it was also a good year for animals in videogames. Since nobody else seems to be giving out awards to the best videogame animals, we’ve decided to make our own list of the 10 best creatures and critters that the medium introduced us to this year. Without any further ado, here are the 10 best videogame animals of 2022, unranked and listed in order of their respective games’ release dates.
Robot Dinosaurs from Horizon Forbidden West
Okay, so the animals from this first entry aren’t strictly biological animals, but they’re robots in the shape of animals, which is close enough. Technically called “The Machines” in-universe, the robot dinosaurs are the coolest part of the Horizon franchise, and that remains true in 2022’s Horizon Forbidden West.
Although we call them robot dinosaurs, there’s a lot of diversity in how these automated creatures present. Some of them are huge, hulking behemoths like the water-dwelling Tideripper or the heavily armed Thunderjaw, while others are smaller, like the sneaky, invisible Stalkers or the peaceful, skittish Grazers. No matter which one, all the Machines are beautiful, awe-inspiring and often terrifying creatures.
Torrent from Elden Ring
Elden Ring’s world of The Lands Between is as unforgiving as it is vast and beautiful, but fortunately you won’t be entirely alone on your adventure thanks to Torrent, your mystical horse companion. The Spirit Steed is helpful for traversing the huge world of Elden Ring faster, and can also be useful for mounted combat. Plus, he can double jump! What could be better than that?!
Fox from Tunic
The hero of the adorable yet deceptively difficult Tunic doesn’t have an official name, but we love them all the same. Fighting through a harsh world of puzzles and bosses, Tunic’s fox is armed with a cute little sword and shield that aid the creature in deciphering the game’s manual in order to unlock new abilities and progress through the isometric environments.
Cat from Stray
Perhaps the most animal-centric game of the year, Stray is all about being a cat. You can scratch up trees and carpets, cozy up somewhere for a little cat-nap, and there’s even a dedicated meow button! I’m not the world’s biggest cat-lover, but I felt like one while playing Stray thanks to its beautiful portrayal of what it’s like to be a normal cat thrust into a bizarre series of situations.
Bear from Bear and Breakfast
Bear and Breakfast is all about running a hotel as a big, adorable bear who just wants to create a cozy place for his customers. From his simple, cute design to his bouncy walk animation to the fact that this smiley bear is dedicating his life to creating the coziest hotel ever, Bear and Breakfast’s bear has everything we love in a bear. Especially the not-mauling-people part.
Lamb from Cult of the Lamb
Less wholesome is the lamb from Cult of the Lamb, where, if you couldn’t guess from the game’s title, you are in charge of running a cult that worships a morally dubious god. Part roguelike adventure and part management simulator, Cult of the Lamb’s lamb is responsible for any number of atrocities as they build their religion, but the lamb is so darn cute that we can’t help but forgive them for it.
Fenrir from God of War: Ragnarök
God of War: Ragnarök may be the game with 2022’s biggest budget, but at least half of that budget seems to have been put toward giving Fenrir, Kratos and Atreus’ beloved dog, the fluffiest fur imaginable, made even more welcoming given the snowy Fimbulwinter surrounding the rest of the game. Although we won’t spoil Fenrir’s arc here, the good boy certainly undergoes a lot throughout the game and deserves even more belly scratches and pets because of it.
Goat from Goat Simulator 3
Goat Simulator from 2014 became known for its wacky shenanigans and mayhem caused by its player-controlled goat, and 2022’s sequel Goat Simulator 3 continues that tradition. Yes, this goat may be responsible for the most property damage ever caused by its species, but it (probably) doesn’t know what it’s doing! It’s just a cute little goat causing unmeasurable amounts of destruction wherever it goes.
Pokémon from Pokémon Scarlet and Violet
Pokémon are great. There are over a thousand of them now, and we recently updated our list to include our 150 favorites from the monster-collecting and battling franchise. Some are cute, others are ferocious, and others are whatever Mr. Mime is, but they’re all unique in their own ways, and the newest entries of the series, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, continue that trend with 103 new ‘mons to find, catch and battle.
Dog from Somerville
Somerville is a short, haunting game in which you, a human, try to survive an alien invasion by running, hiding, and solving puzzles in order to reunite with your family and ultimately try to communicate with your invaders. The game can feel isolating, but fortunately you’ll have your dog beside you for a good chunk of the adventure, always looking out for you as you navigate the treacherous environments and flee from the alien menace. That’s a good boy!
Joseph Stanichar is a freelance writer who specializes in videogames and pop culture. He’s written for publications such as Game Informer, Twinfinite and Looper. He’s on Twitter @JosephStanichar.